State Watch

Hutchinson raises minimum purchase age, ‘AR-15-style weapons’ for ‘conversation’ in gun reform negotiations

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson expressed his willingness for a “conversation” on raising the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 and “AR-15-style weapons” amid fresh talks on gun reform following a deadly mass shooting in Texas last week.

Hutchinson told CNN’s John Berman on Tuesday that he supported an ongoing bipartisan dialogue between a group of U.S. senators to potentially draft new gun control legislation. Hutchinson said one area the bipartisan congressional group should look at is “the AR-15-style weapons,” and whether the minimum age to purchase one should be raised.

“You have to at least have a conversation about that,” said Hutchinson, a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment.

The Arkansas governor is one of a growing number of Republicans who are expressing a willingness for some gun reform after the tragedy in Texas.

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said he was a “strong defender of the Second Amendment” but that he was “getting sick of seeing the mass shootings” and was open to an assault weapons ban. Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.) also signaled an interest in a ban last week.

Some Republicans are still hesitant to enact tougher reform laws, but the age limit to purchase an assault rifle has become a ground for a potential compromise. Only six states have raised the minimum purchase age for a long gun from 18 to 21: Florida, Washington, Vermont, California, Illinois and Hawaii, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Authorities say the mass shooter in Texas purchased a DDM4 V7, an AR-15-style rifle, from a gun store just days after his 18th birthday, which he then used to kill 19 children and two adults in the deadliest elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012. The alleged gunman who opened fire at a grocery market in Buffalo, N.Y., was also 18 when he fired a semiautomatic weapon and killed 10 people.

A bipartisan group of senators began meeting last week after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY.) greenlighted the discussion and appointed Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to lead them for the GOP.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has passionately advocated for gun reform after the Sandy Hook shooting in his home state, is leading the discussions between about 10 senators.

On Monday, Murphy tweeted that he has “been on the phone today w Republican and Democratic Senators trying to find the common denominator on a gun violence bill.”

“Senator [Majority Leader Charles] Schumer has given us just over a week to find a compromise. This time, failure cannot be an option,” Murphy wrote.

The bipartisan congressional group is meeting Tuesday via a Zoom call to try and reach an agreement on gun legislation, with senators possibly looking at compromising on expanding background checks and red flag laws.

Republicans are still pushing for more mental health support and other ways to combat mass shootings other than gun control, a talking point raised by Hutchinson on Tuesday. The Arkansas governor said gun control reform is “tough” because it can be difficult to assess what laws actually work to stop gun violence.

“The challenge with the gun safety discussion is what makes a difference?” he asked. “It’s hard to come up with a solution.”

Tags Adam Kinzinger Arkansas Asa Hutchinson Asa Hutchinson Assault weapons Chris Murphy Firearms Gun control

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